By Em Sumaway

At the end of this particular conversation, the Lord told Peter, “Follow me” (akoloutheimoi). Akolouthei is a verb in the present tense. Thus, the command literally means, “Keep on following me.” Akolouthei is from the root akoloutheō which is the combined form of a, a particle of union, and keleuthos, a road. Literally, this means “to be in the same way with” or “to accompany.” Figuratively, this could mean “to be a disciple.”[1]

There are some inflexible rules of following Jesus. If you follow Jesus, there will come a day, somewhere, sometime, when He will call you to do something that will require setting aside something that is really meaningful to you. Then you will realize that you cannot both obey Him and keep your fists closed tightly around that thing that is so dear to you. Jesus’ rule is absolute—unless you lay down your life, you lose it; but if you lay it down, then you get it back again. When Jesus calls you and says, “Follow me,” are you prepared to set aside all the things about your life that you think define you? Are you prepared to lay them down to follow Jesus?

The gospel is at heart quite simple. You can boil it down to a single concept. The invitation of Jesus is so clear a child can grasp it. He simply says, “Come, follow me.” But the gospel is a many-faceted thing. Following Christ is the most demanding challenge you will ever take on. He also says, “Learn about me.” You will spend the rest of your life doing that.[2]

The Lord’s command to Peter is the same command He gives to us today, “Follow me. Be my disciple.” And the motivation must be that of love so we can be prepared to follow Him with absolute devotion and glorify Him whether by life or by death. Following Jesus is not a hobby or a passing interest. Following Jesus means giving Him priority over everything and everyone else—even your own self. John Ruskin aptly stated, “There are a great many things which the Lord will put up with in the human heart; but there is one thing he will not put up with—second place.”[3]

Lord Jesus, give us the courage to respond to your call and to live in such a way that our love for you is obvious to those around us. Show us every day how we can more fully follow you. Burn in our hearts, Flame of God. Amen. (Douglas Connelly)

[1] Interlinear Bible, electronic database, PC Study Bible V3.2F ( BibleSoft, 1996).

[2] Douglas Connelly, ed. Wisdom from a Pastor’s Heart (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001).

[3] Connelly, Wisdom.


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